Making Passover Fun.
Ideas for creating an engaging, inspiring Seder for kids.
The entire point of the Passover Seder is “lihagid” – to tell. We want our children to perk up, see what’s going on and inquire. We have the unique opportunity to create not just an evening where we get through the Hagaddah as fast as possible so that we can get to the chicken soup, but to create a lasting impression, an indelible mark left on our kids for years to come.
How do we create this impactful impression on our children (and guests) so that they walk away from the table feeling inspired and excited?
Creating a Seder that is engaging, fun and exciting from beginning to end! This year, take time to plan out the actual Seder evening so that you have an organized and smooth Seder which leaves the participants with a positive, lasting impression. Below are a few ideas how to get started.
1. Create a Seder to Your Seder
Create an actual schedule for the evening. The goal is to help you create a streamlined and smooth evening so you are calmer and more prepared, and not just “going with the flow.” Planning each step means scheduling when “Ma Nishtana will be said” and when “Soup will be served.” Preparing this schedule will help you keep things flowing, tell your children when they need to be at the table, and prevents the “how much longer until we are eating?” question.
Creating a “Seder” also means going through the Hagadah ahead of time and making notes when certain songs will be sung, games will be played, and when various Torah soundbites will be discussed. Print out your “Seder to the Seder” and you can give a few of these to various older family members to help keep things moving throughout the evening.
2. Create an Atmosphere:
The impression begins the minute people walk through the door. Have the table set, but give some thought as to how to kick it up a notch.
Tablescapes: Centerpieces are an easy way to create atmosphere for your Seder. For example, if you Google: “Splitting the Sea centerpiece” you will see lots of images of people who re-created the Crossing of the Sea on their dining room table. You can decorate your Seder tables with a “theme.” You can do a jeweled theme, symbolizing how the Jews left Egypt with great wealth, putting fake jewelry as your tablecscape. Include props like toy frogs or other “themed” items by each person’s plate.
A good “prop” is the Mystery Box that can be used as a “Show and Tell” type item, and will also encourage discussions and questions. This box can be a centerpiece on your Pesach Seder table. (I give more detail to the Mystery Box below)
Another good way to have people take notice right away is for the host or one of your family members to come to the Seder in costume. Dressing up like Moses, or even a frog, is sure to get people to ask questions. If the Seder leader is dressed as Moses, the entire Hagaddah can be told in a first -person story form.
3. Games & Activities:
On your “Seder to the Seder,” itemize where and when you want to have various games or activities throughout the evening. There are so many options for Seder games, you can spend hours googling for ideas. Below are just a few of the many I have come across in my searches.
This idea originates from Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, senior editor at Chabad.org who gives a class on how to create a “Wacky and Wonderful Seder.” There are many variations how to use these Mystery Boxes. You can fill the box with “plagues,” or have random items and people have to connect the items to the story of Pesach somehow. You can use the box items as props as you tell the story of Pesach. A toy brick (block) symbolizing the bricks that the Jews built in Egypt, or perhaps a toy snake who can tell the tale of being turned into a staff and back into a snake again.
Afikoman Treasure Hunts:
Have everyone at your table split up in teams and hunt for the afikoman. This way everyone plays together. You can create clues that sends everyone hunting together as one group. There are many variation to this game as well.
Allow the kids to actually “leave Egypt.” I’ve spoken to many families who do a version of this. At some point during Maggid they tie the Matzah on their backs/around their shoulders and lead the children around the house, out of Egypt into the holy land! On the way, they do songs, cheers in praise of God.
Charade Type Games:
Your children can act out the 4 Son’s, different plagues, or different people in the Hagaddah.
To really get your children and guests involved, spend some time coming up with various trivia questions to ask throughout the evening. Trivia questions can be done in differing formats. Jeopardy style (answer in the form of a question), fill in the blank, true or false. Or flip the game, and have the children play “Stump the Daddy/ Rabbi / Leader.” If they can ask a hard enough question that the host doesn’t know the answer, they get a prize!
(For a more complete list, check out my new Pesach Seder Fun section in my 2017 edition of my book: Duby’s Pesach Lists)
4. Interactive Discussions:
The trick to keeping things flowing is for the host to not give long sermons at the table. Save the Dvar Torah’s for day meals when everyone is rested. Keep Torah discussions to sound bites, short and sweet. Work to create more discussion rather than one person giving a speech.
To do this, come up with “questions” posed to the people at the table who need to contribute to the discussion as a whole.
Here are some ideas for Interactive Discussions:
- “modern Ma Nishtana”
- What are things that Plague us today?
- In what way did we leave our own personal Egypts this year?
- What enslaves a person today in society?
- What is true freedom mean?
You can center your discussions around a certain theme each year. Matzah is referred to as bread of healing. Perhaps a theme can be about “healing this year.” How can we heal – physical health – emotional health – heal our relationships – heal our communities, and if you want to get political, how can we heal our country. (although I don’t recommend getting too political at the table lest your guests pick up and leave!)
The ideas above are just a drop in the bucket of what one can do to help enhance your family’s Seder experience. Whatever you choose to do to create a more fun Pesach experience, remember that it should be enjoyable, and not to add extra stress. This will help our families enjoy Pesach and see it for the joyous holiday it truly is. Wishing you a Kosher and Fun and Pesach!